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Bosque School
Bosque School

Senior Capstone

A student presents his Senior Capstone project at Senior Colloquium

Authentic research shared with an authentic audience: Bosque School’s Senior Capstone is a national model for academic rigor, research, and student agency. Every senior engages in this academic milestone, identifying an original research question grounded in personal curiosity and passion. Diving deep into literature review and research, they showcase their well-honed skills in research and writing at a public presentation.

The Senior Capstone program seeks to allow students to synthesize and demonstrate mastery of the skills and knowledge they have developed throughout their academic journey at Bosque School. As such, it is designed and organized around the premise that meaningful learning experiences are student-driven, inquiry-based, interdisciplinary, and deeply aligned with our core value of “inspiring academic excellence.” Our capstone experience allows seniors to articulate a research question of genuine interest to them and provides them with the support necessary to guide them in pursuit of the answer to that question. 

Bosque School’s senior capstone program is modeled after graduate research programs and organized into manageable tasks and assignments to support high school seniors to exceed what is commonly expected. Quarter one is focused on project design. Seniors are introduced to the importance of constructing an answerable, arguable, authentic, and interesting functional research question. Seniors write a prospectus, a research proposal and have structured conversations with adults to help clarify their thinking.

Quarter two is devoted to research. Seniors are introduced to the process of vetting and evaluating sources, searching academic databases, and understanding the relationship between arguments made by other scholars and their own research questions. Students write a preliminary analysis and are provided with formative feedback by their primary readers.  

Quarter three is devoted to fieldwork (embodied learning), writing complete rough drafts, and sitting for capstone defenses. Today’s students almost exclusively associate research with online sources, and the fieldwork component of the capstone program helps them recognize that experts and others with experience in the field are valuable sources of information. Students write fieldwork plans, go through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) process if necessary, and conduct original research of their own in various ways, from interviews and site visits to constructing larger experiments designed to address a specific fieldwork question.  During this quarter, students submit their complete rough drafts and sit for their capstone defenses, at which time they are given the substantive and formative feedback they need in order to write their final drafts. 

During quarter four, everything comes together. Seniors submit their capstone final drafts (between 18 and 22 pages) and prepare to present their findings to a public audience at Bosque School’s Senior Capstone Colloquium. This public event is the culmination of, not only the capstone program, but our students’ academic careers as Bosque School students. It is through this event that they transition from being a student to being the expert in the room to being a teacher.  

A cornerstone of the Bosque School education since 2002, the capstone program was initially housed solely within the humanities department, with all students writing a thesis paper. To better respond to our students' diverse passions and provide greater opportunity for student choice, the capstone program was expanded in 2022-23 to provide students with pathways to conduct their research in humanities, the sciences, visual arts, and Spanish.

A student presents a Senior Capstone project during Senior Colloquium

Bosque School best prepared me for college through the senior thesis project. My topic was focused on how memory changes the past. It was a lot of work, but it was really rewarding and helped me easily write college-level papers. When I arrived at college, everyone was panicking over what they thought were long papers being assigned, but because of my experience with senior thesis, these papers were much more manageable.
Emiliano Gomez, ‘22
Yale University, Class of ‘26

 

A student presents a Senior Capstone project during Senior Colloquium
A student presents a Senior Capstone project during Senior Colloquium

Some sample projects from past years speak volumes about the depth and breadth of the work that our seniors are capable of producing when both challenged and supported.  

  • Why Can’t We Print More Money? An Analysis of the Applicability of Modern Monetary Theory to Social Programs in the U.S. and Monetary Neutrality 
  • Mycorrhizal Fungus Population in the Albuquerque Bosque. A Collaborative Project Between Bosque School and UNM 
  • Not a Natural Disaster: An Artistic Exploration of Land, Culture, and Growth in Relation to the Effects of Nuclear Weapons Testing and Usage in New Mexico and Japan
  • Los Niños Como Fichas de Negociación: La Separación en la Frontera y Sus Efectos Psicológicos
  • A Classless History: The Effects of Colonial Class Abuse on Present-Day Poverty
  • Food Democracy: The Potential for Food System Transformation Through Local Socialist Cooperatives 
  • El Turismo Excesivo: The Tourism Drain on Spain. How Is Barcelona Dealing With Overtourism?
  • The Reality of Being a Woman in the Home: An Art-Based Exploration
  • Look at Us, Looking at You. Indigenous Methods of Curation as a Means to Make Museums Less Exclusive and More Engaging for Marginalized Communities 
  • Sexism Ed: How Sex Education Can Perpetuate a Culture of Fear and Shame for Young Women 
  • A Double Burden on the Brain: How the Stigmatization of Mental Illness Affects Willingness to Seek Treatment 
  • An Analysis of Red-S: Can the Bones of Affected Female Athletes Be Saved?
  • Tiger Salamanders and Other Amphibians Chytrid Fungus Surveys in Small Water Bodies in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties (NM)

In high school, I loved aliens and used that love as the topic of my senior thesis, “life beyond Earth.” What started out as a surface-level, story-based paper turned into a scientific discovery of what “life” meant and the realization that the most basic forms of life had not been found beyond earth. This journey led to my love of space, questioning the unknown, and problem-solving, which led to my career as an engineer working with satellites. My love for the world beyond was founded through my senior thesis and shaped who I am and what I do today.
Rachel Trojahn Gupton ‘09 
University of Arizona, Class of 2013, BS in electrical and computer engineering
University of Arizona, Class of 2014, MS in electrical and computer engineering in 2014
Electrical Engineer, Sandia National Laboratory